Have the product job of your dreams in 2022


Have the product job of your dreams in 2022

When we've taken the time to look at our careers, we sometimes find that we're not happy with where we are.  We aren't doing the things we enjoy.  We aren't making the most of our skills.  We're not on the career path we want.

And if we're not on the career path that we want, there may be a lot of doubt over how we can ever making the transition from where you are to where you want to be.

When it comes to product management, it can often seem so daunting, as we read all about product experts, leading teams and working on great products, whilst we don't have any product roles on our CV.

However, transition is possible.  Every product manager did not use to be a product manager.  They've made the transition and so can you, but it takes time and planning.

With a bit of thought, you can be starting the product role of your dreams this time next year.

The Career Transition Plan

When it comes to planning your career transition, there are three main stages:

  • Understanding
  • Learning
  • Positioning

Understanding

When it comes to understanding, there are two areas for you to get a good understanding:

  • Your current skillset
  • Product management skills

Understanding your skills

When it comes to your current skills, it's time to be honest. What skills do you currently have, and importantly, what don't you have?

  • Are you good at talking to people and understanding what they want?
  • Are you able to present ideas in clear ways so that others can see what they need to?
  • Do you not understand how APIs work?
  • Have you never spoken to a customer in your life?

Write them down so you've got a list which you can work with.

Understanding product management skills

The next step is to get an idea of what skills you're going to need when you move into a product management role. In a wide sense, the following areas need investigation:

Communication - product managers speak to customers, lead teams, write requirements, so you need to be able to get ideas across to others and listen to feedback

Vision - product managers need to share a vision for the product that can be shared with others so that they are motivated to deliver on the vision.

Organization - the life of a product manager can be very busy, with inputs from all around, and an expectant audience waiting for direction or results.  Knowing what needs to be done and then getting it done is key.

Prioritization - there are always more things to be done, than time and resources to do them, and it's to the product manager that people look for a sense of priority.

Of course, there's more to it than that, which is why you need to take steps to familiarize yourself with the day-to-day skills in product management.

Read:

Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love

The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback

Watch:

Basics of product management

Top ten skills of a product manager

Learning

Once you've built up your list of your own skills and developed your knowledge of required product skills, then you're in a position to compare the two lists.

What do you already have that's needed, and importantly where are the gaps?

If you can identify the gaps, then you've got opportunity to spend some time learning in order to fill them.

This doesn't have to be joining a course, and you can do much of this a) in your own role, b) with your own product, c) on your own with content

Learning on the job

Look at ways in which you can 'product manage' your own role.  Develop your own backlog of work items that need defining and prioritizing,  Treat your boss or teammates as your customers and gather their feedback.  Get closer to the organization within your team and assert your influence. 

Develop your own product

Side hustles are all the rage these days, so why not set up your own and be the product manager of your own product.

It doesn't have to be something that's going to replace Facebook or Google, just something that you can manage.

If you have a skill then can you turn this into a blog that needs developing?

Do you have access to some goods that you can market and sell?

Are you an expert in a subject that you can turn into a podcast?

Whatever it is, the important thing is that you'd be responsible for understanding your audience, prioritizing your activities, and delivering value, all of which will support your skills development.

Listening to the experts

When it comes to attending your first product management interview, it's going to be better to be able to talk about how you re-vamped your role to be product focused, or how you set up a side hustle that's developing some traction, but you can supplement this by consuming some of the great product focused content there is that's out there.

Some PM folk I find interesting are: Product Dave, Ken Norton, and Gibson Biddle

Positioning

One of the biggest challenges when transitioning careers, is having your CV drop onto the hiring managers desk and it does not contain any previous experience in the role.  This is where you need to have spent some time positioning yourself so that you can mention product and product related skills throughout your résumé.

  • If you've set up a side hustle, then include this so you can show off the skills you've been using.
  • If you've 'productized' your current role, then edit your description of the role so use product focused language.
  • If you have opportunity to support the product teams in your organization, take them, so that you can add this experience into your background.
  • Join product groups in order to up your knowledge, but also show how active you are in the product space.
  • Attend a hackathon and use some of your new found skills.

Implement the plan

It will take effort and time to get the role of your dreams, but by taking small steps, you'll make progress toward your goal. Lots of people have done it, and so can you.  This time next year, you can be a product manager.

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